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I have a friend who hands out little pictures of frogs to the people she knows, to remind them to be fully reliant on God – also known as “FROG.”
I have one on my dining room table and another in my car, and the images really do help me to remember this important lesson.
Baha’is believe that surrendering their will to the will of God is a fundamental spiritual principle. But how do we do it?
First of all, it requires me to become conscious. When I’m operating on auto-pilot and not aware of my motives and ineffective coping mechanisms, I often make poor decisions. When I act consciously, aware of my reasons for acting, my decision-making improves.
Second, and related to that, I’ve learned that I need to slow way down. Like so many modern people, I’m used to multi-tasking and going a million miles an hour through life – which definitely puts me in the fast lane. I have to slow down to be able to listen to myself, and then to God.
Instead of making decisions too quickly, especially when I’m on auto-pilot, I’m learning to put a 72-hour hold on any major life decision, and use that time to pray and meditate, check in with how the decision makes me feel, research any information that would help me get clarity on what I can and can’t do, and ensure that the decision truly reflects God’s will rather than only mine.
Prayerful consultation with trusted friends is another tool I use for decision-making, trusting that our collective decision-making can help me discern God’s will.
Next, I need detachment from my ego, my impure motives, my ineffective coping strategies, my negative and self-defeating attitudes and behaviors, and every other thing that has become a veil between me and God; recognizing that these will all hinder my alignment with God’s will.
In my quest to rely on God’s will rather than my own, I like using this Baha’i prayer:
I have renounced My desire for Thy desire, O my God, and My will for the revelation of Thy Will. By Thy glory! I desire neither Myself nor My life except for the purpose of serving Thy Cause, and I love not My being save that I may sacrifice it in Thy path.
He who puts his trust in God, God will suffice him, he who fears God, God will send him relief.
1st Step: Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations [the prophets of God] as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of contemplation for a few minutes.
2nd Step: Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment but if it seems to be as answer to a prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.
3rd Step: Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.
4th Step: Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle, or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the 5th step.
5th Step: Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you.
Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need.
But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered? How true are these words “Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered” and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out.
Gratitude is another tool I use – before my prayers, I try to remember all the ways that God has had my back in the past and thank Him for it. After I’ve come to a decision and acted on it, I also thank God for prayers not answered and the protection that’s engendered from things that aren’t in my highest good. I follow it by thanking the Creator for things He’s going to answer in the future.
I’ve learned, too, that often the answer to my prayer doesn’t always look exactly like what I wanted. For example, once my schedule was out of control, overwhelming me. I loved everything I was doing, but it was too much, and I didn’t know how to fix it, so I prayed … and then I broke my ankle! I didn’t mean to break it, of course, but I recognized it immediately as an answer to a prayer – and all I could do was laugh. Living alone at the end of a long hall, on the second floor of an apartment building with no elevator, all of my time needed to be dedicated to self-care!
Finally, I need to trust in God’s Plan. He knows what’s in my best interest, and He knows what obstacles have to be removed first. His timing is always perfect – it just isn’t the same as my timing!
I’ve learned the hard way that when I’m in self-will, life doesn’t go nearly as well as when I am fully reliant on God’s will – and I am grateful!